A Tale of Two Technology Countries
December 4, 2019
“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“It is not necessary to conceal anything from a public insensible to contradiction and narcotized by technological diversions.” – Neil Postman
A Chip Off The Old Block(er Of The Internet)
Last May, as trade tensions with Beijing escalated, the Trump administration banned US shipments of smartphone chips to China’s technology giant Huawei. In October the commerce department started granting export licenses to US-based chip makers to begin some other deliveries. But it might be a case of too little too late for American tech companies, because in the interim Huawei began building its smartphones without US chips.
Huawei hasn’t stopped using American chips entirely, but it has significantly reduced its reliance on US suppliers, or eliminated US chips in phones launched since May. The company’s latest phone, the Mate 30, was launched in September to compete with Apple’s iPhone 11. A Japanese technology lab that analyzed the Mate 30 confirmed it contained no US parts. The chips were apparently provided by a Dutch company.
A semiconductor analyst said Huawei executives had told him in recent meetings the company was moving away from American parts, but he was surprised at how quickly it happened. “When Huawei came out with this high-end phone [their flagship Mate 30] with no U.S. content, that made a pretty big statement,” he said.
What should arguably be more significant to the Chinese people than where their smartphone chips come from is their inability to access websites available to the rest of the world. In the most populous country on earth the internet is so heavily restricted and censored that experts believe the future could see a distinct bifurcation, with a Chinese-led internet, and a non-Chinese internet led by America.
- China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West: Beijing’s pursuit of control over a Muslim ethnic group pushes the rules of science and raises questions about consent. (NYT, $)
- US House votes for sanctions on Chinese officials over Uighur treatment (BBC)
- Trump comments, Uighur bill hit prospects of U.S.-China trade deal (Reuters)
- China gene-edited baby experiment ‘may have created unintended mutations’ (Guardian)
- Huawei urging suppliers to break the law by moving offshore: Ross (Reuters)
- That smart TV you just bought may be spying on you, FBI warns (CNN)
NATO’s Greatest Threat is Within
- Both President Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron were in London Tuesday for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the NATO alliance. The two leaders made a televised 45-minute appearance at the American ambassador’s residence; before it ended, Macron had managed a rare role reversal, putting Trump on the defensive about his vision for NATO and his handling of Turkey’s invasion of the Kurds homeland in Syria.
- When Trump stated many ISIS fighters had come from France and said: “I can give them to you,” Macron pounced back: “Let’s be serious. The very large numbers of fighters on the ground are the fighters coming from Syria, from Iraq.”
- As one knowledgeable observer noted: “[Trump] doesn’t like confrontation in person and doesn’t quite know how to react to being on the receiving end. Macron understands that. He’s decided the best defense is offense.” (NYT)
Digital Mercantilism: Investments In India Are In Deep Trouble
- Walmart got some bad news after sealing a $16 billion deal last year to buy India’s biggest domestic e-commerce startup. The rules got changed. India’s leaders decided to take a page out of China’s protectionist handbook and throw up some roadblocks, by enacting special requirements for how US tech companies structure their operations and handle data collected from Indian customers.
- The new rules mean foreign-owned online retailers like Amazon would need to modify their supply chains and stop deep discounting if they want a piece of the world’s biggest untapped digital market. The new rules don’t apply to Indian companies. (WSJ)
Russia’s War Against Democracy
- Germany suspects Russian agencies over Chechen exile killing (Guardian)
- Putin approves law targeting journalists as ‘foreign agents’: Move described by rights activists as scare tactic to stifle criticism of Russian government (Guardian)
- Britain’s Secret War With Russia: The poisoning of a double agent sparked an intelligence and PR battle between London and Moscow, the details of which are only now emerging. (Atlantic, $)
- The Betrayal of Volodymyr Zelensky: The surreal story of how a comedian who played the Ukrainian president on TV became the president in real life—then found himself at the center of an American political scandal (Atlantic, $)
Additional World News
- See How the World’s Most Polluted Air Compares With Your City’s (NYT, $)
- Germans Keep on Saving Their Money—Even When It Hurts (WSJ, $)
- Revtown is making your new favorite pair of jeans. And why is that?
- Revtown uses a proprietary fabric consisting of Italian milled denim infused with the same stuff used in football uniforms and yoga pants.
- Their athletic stretch denim keeps up with you on-the-go from the office, to the bar, and everywhere in between. You’ve never had jeans with that perform like this. One of Revtown’s founders even hiked the Appalachian trail in their jeans!
- The kicker? By dealing directly with the customer you can get your hands on these jeans for a killer price. Get your new favorite pair of jeans today!
A Taxing Time For Trump’s Taxes
- On Tuesday President Trump lost round two of his fight to keep Deutsche Bank, his long-time lender, from having to turn over extensive personal and business financial records to the two House congressional committees that had subpoenaed them.
- The president has spent years fighting to keep his financial information secret, and broke with decades of tradition by refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign.
- Trump has already turned to the Supreme Court in an effort to fend off other government investigations into his personal finances, and will almost certainly appeal this latest federal court ruling to the Supreme Court. (NYT)
Additional USA News
- Trump impeachment evidence overwhelming – House report (BBC)
- GOP embraces a debunked Ukraine conspiracy to defend Trump from impeachment (WaPo, $)
- What we learned from Free, Melania, the salacious new book about the first lady (Guardian)
- Pete Buttigieg Spent His Younger Days Pushing Democrats Off Middle Ground (NPR) & Mayor Pete also spent some time at McKinsey: How McKinsey Helped the Trump Administration Detain and Deport Immigrants (Pro Publica) & Pete Buttigieg’s Work At McKinsey Is A Secret (BuzzFeed News)
- Installing Free Wi-Fi To Help Count Rural Communities Of Color In 2020 Census (NPR)
They Grow Up Too Fast
- Lots of help exists for people who are victims of domestic violence. But research is limited — as is support, understanding and effective intervention — for parents who are victimized by their own children.
- A 2017 review said: “Adolescent-to-parent violence is an increasingly recognized family and societal problem. Documented prevalence rates range between 5 and 22 percent of the population; however, researchers speculate that this is a gross underestimate.”
- Keri Williams is a writer in North Carolina who manages a blog and Facebook page for parents like herself who are raising children who have trauma-related behavioral issues, including attachment disorders that can manifest as intentional violence directed toward parents.
- Her own son became so violent that he had to be placed in a residential facility eight years ago when he was 10. “I actually thought I was the only person going through it,” she said. “I had no idea that this was actually a larger issue than myself.” (NPR)
- Should I delete Tinder? These millennials think so (BBC)
- Half of all homeless people may have had traumatic brain injury (Guardian)
- A Saner Mindset For Weight Loss (NPR) Daily Pnut’s Tim recently started eating less junk food by avoiding very sugary foods. And also not eating late at night. It has really helped improve his health and concentration and recommends readers adopt healthier perspectives & habits around food.
- Additional quote and a solid book: “We speak of having better food choices, but for the most part, we eat the foods that food companies want to sell us.” – Bee Wilson, The Way We Eat Now
- The above book was checked out from the library. Some interesting articles on libraries (our favorite institution)
- How busyness leads to bad decisions: When we’re under pressure our mental bandwidth narrows – and that means we focus on the wrong tasks. So what’s the remedy for unproductive ‘tunnelling’? (BBC) Being busy does not mean being productive.
- Additional quote: “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” – Warren Buffett
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